Sir Roger Bannister reveals Parkinson's disease battle

Roger Bannister It is almost 60 years since Sir Roger Bannister ran a sub-four-minute mile

Related Stories

Sir Roger Bannister, the first man to run a mile in less than four minutes, has revealed he has Parkinson's disease.

Sir Roger, 85, made sporting history with his landmark run at Oxford's Iffley Road track on 6 May 1954.

The former neurologist said: "I am having troubles with walking. Ironically, it's a neurological disorder - Parkinson's disease."

He was diagnosed with the condition three years ago.

'Gentle irony'

Sir Roger told BBC Radio Oxford: "I have seen, and looked after, patients with so many neurological and other disorders that I am not surprised I have acquired an illness.

"It's in the nature of things, there's a gentle irony to it.

"I am being well looked after and I don't intend to let it interfere - as much as I can.

"Just consider the alternatives - that is the way I look at it. One of my pleasures in life, apart from running, has been walking. Intellectually I am not [degenerating] and what is walking anyway?"

Roger Bannister about to cross the tape at the end of his record breaking mile run at Iffley Road, Oxford Sir Roger had planned to retire at the 1952 Olympic Games if he won the 1500m - he came fourth

Sir Roger shocked the world when he ran a mile in three minutes 59.4 seconds to become the first person to break the four-minute barrier.

Bannister was helped by Sir Christopher Chataway and Chris Brasher, who acted as pacesetters.

Parkinson's disease

  • It is a neurological condition where nerve cells in the brain die
  • Around one in every 500 people in the UK have the disease
  • There is no known cure, but drugs can help with treatment
  • People with the condition lack a chemical called dopamine, so movements become slower
  • Symptoms include shaking, slow movement, and inflexible muscles, which can make it difficult to walk, write, or do up buttons.

Brasher died in 2003 after a short illness and Chataway died from cancer in January.

Bannister may be best remembered for the sub-four minute mile, but he said his 1954 Commonwealth Games gold medal was the pinnacle of his athletics career.

The Vancouver Games were held only months after he broke the four-minute barrier, but the race was made all the more important as his chief adversary, Australia's John Landy, had broken his famous record 46 days before.

'Special race'

Bannister took the title in a Games record 3:58.8, leaving Landy, who clocked 3:59.6, to take the silver.

"The race between the two of us was a very, very special race," he said.

"It determined which would be regarded as the superior runner in history."

Six decades on, he has warned a breakthrough in the fight against Parkinson's could still be some way off.

"I know quite a lot about it and have treated a lot of people with it," he said.

"I am aware of all the research that's been done. I think it will take some time before there is a breakthrough, but the management and drug treatments are improving all the time."

Parkinson's UK chief executive Steve Ford said he was "saddened" to hear the "much-loved sporting legend" was being treated for the disease.

"One person every hour in the UK will be diagnosed with Parkinson's," he said.

"We applaud Sir Roger and his decision to speak publicly about his diagnosis at this stage in his long life."

More on This Story

BBC Oxford

Weather

Oxford

17 °C 12 °C

BBC Local Live

  1.  
    Cars flooded by burst water main 14:21: via Facebook

    The flood water from the burst water main in Normandy Crescent was high enough to enter cars.

    Flooded car

    See more photos on our Facebook page.

     
  2.  
    Murder detectives make car appeal 14:08: Rhiannon Beacham BBC News

    Detectives investigating the murder of a Swindon woman have appealed for information about the whereabouts of a silver car that may have been sold to an Irish man at an Oxfordshire auction.

    The silver Volvo

    Becky Godden's remains were found at a farm in Gloucestershire in 2011, eight years after she disappeared.

    Police want to know what happened to a silver Volvo, registration T661 LGP.

     
  3.  
    News on the hour 13:58: Phil Mercer Reporter, BBC Radio Oxford

    A 41-year-old Romanian has appeared in court charged with a series of sex offences in Oxford over the weekend.

    More with me at 14:00.

     
  4.  
    Man charged over rape 13:42:

    A man has been charged with rape, attempted rape and sexual assault after women were attacked in Oxford.

    The 41-year-old, of no fixed address, was arrested on Sunday after a woman in her twenties reported being sexually assaulted in South Park.

    The assault was linked to the rape of a 19-year-old woman who was followed into a flat in Roosevelt Drive, Headington on Saturday.

     
  5.  
    Feedback 13:31: Andrew Humphrey BBC Local Live

    Local Live is a new service for Oxfordshire. We aim to bring you the latest news, sport, travel and weather.

    What do you think of what we do? We would love to hear your views, so please fill out this form and tell us what you think.

     
  6.  
    Lunchtime TV 13:20: BBC South Today

    Coming up on BBC South Today this lunchtime: More people have emergency allergy treatment here in the south than anywhere else in England. And the number of people admitted to hospital with allergic reactions is also on the up.

    The Thames Valley is one of the regions with a higher number of incidents than the national average. Join Roger Finn at 13:30.

     
  7.  
    Cowley flood aftermath 13:05: Lilley Mitchell Reporter, BBC Radio Oxford

    The burst water main in Normandy Crescent in Oxford flooded dozens of homes, causing damage to property and leaving a large clearing up operation.

    Normandy Crescent flooding

    See more photos on our Facebook page.

     
  8.  
    News on the hour 12:56: BBC Radio Oxford

    Thames Water say it could be six months before life is back to normal for people living on Normandy Crescent.

    Get the full story at 13:00.

     
  9.  
    Lightening strikes twice 12:41: Andrew Humphrey BBC Local Live

    Residents in Normandy Crescent, which was today flooded by water from a burst water main, may be be reflecting on the fact that this was not the first time the area had been effected.

    Normandy Crescent 2007

    This was the scene in January 2007, when the street was flooded by, you guessed it, a burst water main.

     
  10.  
    Two killed in train incident 12:28: Banbury Cake

    There are delays on rail services to London after a two people were killed when they were hit by a train in Slough.

    Network Rail said there was delays of up to an hour between Oxford and London Paddington

     
  11.  
    Cowley road closures 12:18:

    Normandy Crescent in Oxford closed around the Paget Road junction, because of a burst water main and emergency repairs.

    Also affecting Horspath Road at Paget Road.

     
  12.  
    Bicester barn fire 12:05: Oxford Mail

    A huge barn fire has been burning in Bucknell Road, Bicester. It is believed about 1,000 tons of hay and 1,200 tons of straw are alight.

    Bicester Fire Station tweeted this picture:

    Barn in Bicester burning
     
  13.  
    News on the hour 11:57: Clare Woodling Newsreader, BBC Radio Oxford

    Thames Water says residents affected by flooding caused by a burst water main have been offered emergency shelter.

    Join me with more at 12:00.

     
  14.  
    Air ambulance to fly at night 11:51: Emily-Ann Elliott BBC News Online

    Thames Valley and Chiltern Air Ambulance (TVCAA), which serves Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire is to carry out night flights, it has announced.

    Air ambulance

    Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance (HIOWAA), its operational partner, will also do the same.

     
  15.  
    Petition to save pool 11:38: Oxford Times

    Campaigners hoping to save Temple Cowley Pools will present a petition to Oxford City Council next week.

     
  16.  
    Flood residents evacuated to leisure centre 11:28: Indy Almroth-Wright BBC Online

    Emergency planning teams from Oxfordshire County Council are supporting residents whose homes were flooded by a burst water main in Normandy Crescent at an evacuation centre set up at Blackbird Leys Leisure Centre.

    Normandy Crescent flooding

    Thames Water said a 24in (60cm) water pipe burst just after 05:00 affecting 50 properties.

     
  17.  
    On air 11:16: Will Wilkin Producer, BBC Radio Oxford

    On the Malcolm Boyden show this morning, we'll be speaking to Linda Davies, an Oxford graduate who was taken hostage by Iranian pirates while on the maiden voyage of her catamaran in 2005.

    The bestselling thriller writer, former London City and New York banker and journalist will be telling us how she survived the ordeal.

     
  18.  
    Cowley flood receding 11:05: Tom Turrell Reporter, BBC South Today

    The flood water from a burst water main in Normandy Crescent in Cowley has noticeably fallen.

    Oxfordshire Fire And Rescue Service are currently in attendance along with Thames Valley Police, South Central Ambulance Service, Oxford City Council and Thames Water.

    Emergency services at Normandy Crescent

    Here's a picture of the teams working to pump the water away.

     
  19.  
    News on the hour 10:57: Clare Woodling Newsreader, BBC Radio Oxford

    Emergency services are at the scene of a broken water main on Normandy Crescent in Cowley.

    Thames Water say their engineers are doing everything they can to turn off the water supply to the pipe.

    More on this at 11:00.

     
  20.  
    Whing and Clarke recovering 10:41: Robyn Cowen Sports reporter, BBC Radio Oxford

    Andy Whing and Ryan Clarke could make a significant step towards a return to Oxford United action when they figure in a development squad game later today.

    Andy Whing

    Whing is recovering from an operation on a hip problem. while Clarke has had surgery on an ankle injury.

    Both could feature in a friendly against Southend which is being played behind closed doors.

     
  21.  
    Jewellery set to sparkle 10:31: Oxford Mail

    Silver and jewellery artists are showing their metal at the Oxfordshire Museum in Woodstock as a collection of their finest work goes on display today.

     
  22.  
    Queues easing 10:16: Sara Dumbell Travel presenter, BBC Radio Oxford

    There are residual queues on the A34 Northbound from the Marcham Interchange to Hinksey after an earlier car fire.

    In better news, the A417 works queues have now eased.

     
  23.  
    Replica spitfire squadron started 10:05: Witney Gazette

    A flying club owner in Oxfordshire who wants to build a squadron of 12 Spitfires has completed his first model.

     
  24.  
    News on the hour 09:59: Clare Woodling Newsreader, BBC Radio Oxford

    Around 50 homes in Oxford have been evacuated after a water main burst.

    Emergency services are at the scene of the broken two foot pipe on Normandy Crescent in Cowley.

    More with me at 10:00.

     
  25.  
    Knee deep 09:50:

    Another picture tweeted by Karen Cherry shows cars flooded and people up to their knees in the flood water from the burst water main in Normandy Crescent in Cowley.

    Burst water main in Normandy Crescent in Cowley
     
  26.  
    East Hendred delays 09:38: Sara Dumbell Travel presenter, BBC Radio Oxford

    There are 40 minute delays around East Hendred where we have temporary lights on the A417 and the closure of Featherbed Lane.

    Traffic is solid from Ardington on the A417 to Rowstock.

     
  27.  
    Properties evacuated 09:29:

    Thames Water has issued a statement after a burst water main caused severe flooding in Normandy Crescent in Cowley.

    It said: "The flooding has been caused by a burst 24-inch water pipe. Some properties have been evacuated and we're working closely with the emergency services at the scene now.

    "Our engineers are doing everything they can to turn off the water supply to the pipe, which will then stop the flooding. We're really sorry to everyone affected."

     
  28.  
    Cowley flooding 09:21:

    There is a burst water main in Normandy Crescent - Karen Cherry tweeted pictures of the rising water in the area.

    Normandy Crescent flooding
     
  29.  
    Top headlines
     
  30.  
    Cowley burst water main 09:12:

    Thames Water tweets: Sorry if you're waking up to no water in #OX3 or #OX4. We're working to reroute water after a pipe burst in Normandy Crescent

     
  31.  
    A34 delays 09:05: Sara Dumbell Travel presenter, BBC Radio Oxford

    There are queues on the A34 northbound after a car fire just after Abingdon North headed up to Hinskey.

    Queues are now stretching back to the Marcham Interchange - with delays of 15 minutes.

     
  32.  
    News on the hour 08:55: Charles Nove Presenter, BBC Radio Oxford

    A homeless man, who admitted setting fire to a series of cash machines in Banbury, will be sentenced at Oxford Crown Court today.

    Colin Aries, 49, started fires at three cash points in the high street in June - and then also set fire to the Freemasons Hall in the town.

    More headlines with me at 09:00.

     
  33.  
    Cricket award for 15-year-old 08:42: Robyn Cowen Sports reporter, BBC Radio Oxford

    A 15-year-old girl from Banbury Cricket Club has collected a prestigious national Spirit of Cricket Award, created in memory of former Test Match Special commentator Christopher Martin-Jenkins.

    Amy Freeman suffered a dislocated knee at the start of the season, but carried on playing as the team were short of players.

    She said: "It was amazing, I still can't believe it really. I do love sports and it's just part of my life now"

     
  34.  
    Flood grants unclaimed 08:33: Phil Gayle Breakfast presenter, BBC Radio Oxford

    Government money was promised to help homeowners and businesses to recover from the effects of flooding, but BBC Radio Oxford has learnt that many individuals and businesses here aren't applying for the grants because they simply don't know about them.

    Abingdon Road in Oxford

    Phil Gayle spoke to Mohammed Afzal, the Manager of the Nisa Convenience store on Abingdon Road, who explained how his business had been impacted: "It was actually very badly affected, we could not receive deliveries, the roads were blocked. People couldn't get to the shop so we did loose a lot of money."

     
  35.  
    Foggy start 08:14: Bee Tucker BBC Weather

    It's a fairly foggy start to the day, there are some locally dense patches and the Met Office does have a yellow warning out for these patches which may well cause some travel disruption as we go through the first part of the morning.

    Weather graphic

    The mist and fog should lift fairly quickly and after a fairly chilly start to the day temperatures should start to recover nicely through the morning.

    A fairly pleasant afternoon in store with those temperatures doing well for the time of year with some long spells of sunshine and highs today around 19C (66F).

     
  36.  
    Burst water mains 08:06: Sara Dumbell Travel presenter, BBC Radio Oxford

    In Cowley, Oxford, Normandy Crescent is closed due to flooding from a very large burst water main around Paget Road.

    It's a fairly minor road, but it's very close to the Eastern Bypass.

    Stagecoach are reporting that their number 10 is unable to serve Horspath Rd due to the burst water main. The next nearest stops are on Holloway.

     
  37.  
    Good morning 08:00: Andrew Humphrey BBC Local Live

    Welcome to BBC Local Live on this Tuesday morning. I'll be bringing you the latest news, sport, travel and weather for Oxfordshire today.

    You can get in touch throughout the day and tell us what you're up to via email, Facebook or Twitter.

     

Features

  • Peaky Blinders publicity shotBrum do

    Why is the Birmingham accent so difficult to mimic?


  • Oliver CromwellA brief history

    The 900-year-story behind the creation of a UK parliament


  • Image of Ankor Wat using lidarJungle Atlantis

    How lasers have revealed an ancient city beneath the forest


  • Tesco signBest before?

    Has Tesco passed its sell-by date, asks Richard Anderson


Elsewhere on the BBC

Programmes

  • Islamic StateClick Watch

    Can the location of Islamic State militants be found with open source data?

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.